Existence is Overrated

This is a cross post from the blog, West Bank to West End

I’m in Israel, it’s swelteringly headache inducing hot, I am covered in itchy mosquito bites, I have had my customary bizarre constant sneezing and sniffling symptoms since the minute I landed here and yet I love Israel more every time I come.

There is no place quite like it.

I have been here now the first week of a two week stay and as per usual I’m pretty convinced that the overwhelming warmth that radiates from the Israeli people contributes to these sweltering temperatures.

Let me share something with you. I went to the shopping mall in Rehovot on Saturday to see the new film Inception (as sci-fi goes, this one is pretty good). The many swanky shopping centres in Israel on Motze Shabbat (Saturday evening after sun-down) are always packed and brimming with noisy bustling Israelis. It is typical to see masses of mums with big industrial size prams everywhere, families, beautiful young girls checking their reflections in every window they pass, religious families with many cute toddling children, Arabs in traditional garb and all the other colourful shades of Israeli society.

As we waited in the long queue to buy our tickets I looked around me at the sea of Israelis so full of life and exciting chatter. The easiest thing to always be mesmerised by their good looks. This is one sexy nation. Those gorgeous gals and guys are absolutely everywhere strutting around in their sprayed on skin tight jeans (gals) and walking around looking pretty damn gorgeous. Don’t take my word for it, just ask anyone who has happened to visit this country about the level of gorgeousness and watch them go all goofy and starry eyed.

Anyway, whilst looking around me at the hundreds of excited noisy Israelis I had a moment of clarity about the absurd discussion of Israel having the “right” to “exist” as a Jewish state or whatever other crap the self appointed Existence Police spout.

This nation is so very alive that they take it a step beyond existing. Existing? Ha! Maybe that’s what the Europeans do, maybe they’re satisfied just existing and they feel the need to project their own values onto us as a nation? They exist. We don’t only exist in Israel. We live. We are alive. Alive and kicking and loud and proud and so very grateful to have finally made it home after thousands of years.

Perhaps the Europeans need to get with the program! We declare and cry out in Israel “Am Yisrael Chai”, meaning The Jewish Nation lives. It doesn’t merely exist. It lives. Chaim (plural of life) being one of the most popular boys name in this country is no coincidence. I suggest anyone who is a little confused by what I write come visit here and you will see the manifestation of what it means to really live and not only exist.

Speaking from personal experience and perhaps the explanation for the many making aliyah from the richer western countries is that being in Israel is always like that feeling you get after the icy winter when the sun is out for the first time. The flowers are blooming, the birds are singing, the moths are invading your house, maybe you dust your sandals off again and you’re feeling pretty damn good to be alive. You know that feeling? Well multiply it infinitely and imagine if it was a constant. There you have it. You don’t only hear the heartbeat of the country here, you can see it and feel and you are a part of it.

So for those of you who have been short-changed and only been granted permission to exist and have fallen for the western societys’ hype of existence and not living, I suggest you come visit Israel and perhaps be inspired to take a leaf out of the Jewish nations book and learn to live a little too. We would give you our full blessing to do so and will not even need to discuss your rights on the matter! How is that for generous?

Am Yisrael chai makes more sense to me now than ever before.

Disclaimer: Yes it’s not all plain sailing in Israel and driving on the roads here is akin to going to war etc but there is no place like Israel anywhere else in the world. I guarantee it.

I also want to add that this piece has sat festering in MSWord for editing but I have been busy. However as I sit now working in a coffee shop in Jerusalem, there is a European woman sat next to me donning a keffiar (Arafat style) typing into her laptop furiously for what looks like an article. I have given myself a kick up the backside and posted this. I like to tell myself that this is the the counter argument of what she might be writing about my country :-)


Interestingly, Ruth, the Co-Author of this blog, originally submitted this post to the Guardian.  Here’s her letter:

Dear Guardian Editor,

Upon my good friends advice, I would like to share with you my piece which he assures me you will find quite enchanting.

Please accept this as confirmation that I will not charge you should you wish to publish this. However if you contact me for another one, I might have to charge you a few bob because unfortunately my altruism has its limits.

I believe in light of keeping your readership happy, you should publish this and watch the letters of thanks and appreciation flood in.

And for what it’s worth please let me extend my condolences for the recent Panorama documentary which I understand your paper and readers have found quite upsetting. You will find comfort in the fact that many of “us” are as equally shocked as you so although it is a different type of shock, we are at least all shocked together and should support each other through this shocking time.

I look forward to seeing my piece in your esteemed paper.

Lots of love from The Holy Land.

Ps. Do you happen to know if one of your correspondents was in a coffee shop in Jerusalem today typing about her love of the land? I think the lady sat next to me today mentioned at the end of this article might have been “one of yours”. I can confirm she was not skiving on company time but working very hard until steam came out of her laptop and her ears simultaneously.


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